Coastal and Tropical South

May, 2008
Regional Report

Growing Healthy Gardenias

Our care of gardenia shrubs includes late-spring fertilizing to keep leaves green and flowers plentiful. Even so, yellow leaves and fallen flowers can result if you don't work compost into the top inches of soil to keep it on the acid side, like you do for azaleas and camellias.

Keep Mites Off Lantana

Mounds of nectar-filled flowers attract butterflies to this drought-tolerant perennial, but spider mites like them, too. You might not see them, but you'll see their results: crinkled leaves and fewer flowers. Prune the damage away to encourage new growth, and remember to spray water under the leaves weekly.

Battling Pests on Hollies

Tall or short, hollies growing in shade often become homes for scale, aphids, and whitefly. You may not see the problem until black sooty mold coats leaves, and white flower clusters shrivel. That means no berries! Clean mold with soapy water, then spray with pyrethrin weekly for three applications.

Check Fasteners on Hammocks and Swings

Never underestimate the power of a stronger bolt, longer screw hook, and heavier chain when hanging swings and hammocks. A friend's recently broken ankle attests to the importance of keeping yourself safe in the garden. Tighten up or replace old screws, and oil wood to prevent splinters.

Don't Forget the Shade-Lovers

Shade does not exclude heat, and there are annuals to plant now that can take both and bloom for months. Angel wing begonias such as the new 'Mandarin' perform better than their relatives, our beloved scarlets. Combine them with new varieties of New Guinea impatiens, colorful torenia, and heart-leaved caladiums.

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